Biosecurity boost highlights important improvements
By Travis Tobin
RECENT South Australian emergency animal disease preparedness activities and scenario planning exercises have identified gaps and concerns that will limit the state’s ability to respond and contain an outbreak should the unthinkable happen.
Government and industry response and activities following the heightened risk of a foot and mouth disease (FMD) or lumpy skin disease (LSD) incursion over recent months have lowered the anxiety levels in our farming communities, but we need to remain vigilant and focus on plugging the holes in our system during ‘peacetime’.
The Federal Government’s recent $4.33 million commitment to establish a new Northern Australian Coordination Network to help manage the threat of LSD and FMD is welcome. We know that if LSD were to make its way into Australia it would be through the north due to its proximity to Southeast Asia, so increased surveillance and coordination will help protect us all.
That said, other exotic diseases are less predictable about how they enter and move around the country, so every state needs to increase early detection and containment capability. We need to build on the northern initiative and look at a similar approach and investment across southern Australia to coordinate the containment and control of biosecurity strategies for our regions.
An identified gap that could be simply fixed is building an adequate network of truck washes across our main stock freight routes.
The issue of the condition and cleanliness of trucks that enter properties has been raised by Livestock SA members over several years, and the shortage of truck wash facilities across the state will have consequences for responding to an emergency animal disease (EAD).
Adequate and accessible truck washes would improve biosecurity hygiene and an effective network across southern Australia would bolster the nation’s biosecurity system. Everyone understands the concept of ‘come clean, go clean’ but without the facilities to enable this, it is just a catchy slogan.
The LSD and FMD wake-up call has encouraged new thinking and greater collaboration across government and industry. Models of the past shouldn’t automatically be assumed to be the best models for the future, particularly where increased levels of sustainable funding are concerned.
The disparity of funding across the states and territories means we have eight separate systems that are not equal, and any chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It would be prudent for us to seize the recent LSD and FMD momentum and enthusiasm to put ourselves on a path to realising one properly resourced and accountable biosecurity system that has jurisdictional responsibilities and accountabilities.
With the Federal Budget front of mind, it’s worth noting that in November 2020, biosecurity experts from the University of Melbourne valued Australia’s biosecurity system at $314 billion dollars, reflecting a 30 to one return on investment.
Details: To express your opinion regarding an issue or to stay in touch with Livestock SA, call the office at 08 8297 2299, visit www.livestocksa.org.au, or follow Livestock SA on social media. Twitter: @Livestock_SA and Facebook: www.facebook.com.au/LivestockSA